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Vatican City, 2 December 2013 (VIS) – Today at 4 p.m. the Roman parish of San Cirillo Alessandrino, home to a large number of immigrants, received a visit from Pope Francis, who met with the children who have been baptised during the past year along with their parents, children who will receive their first communion this year, and the sick. Before celebrating Mass, the Holy Father confessed seven parishioners and, throughout the Eucharistic celebration, administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to nine children. It is the second time during his pontificate that the Holy Father has visited a parish in the capital – the first was during the month of May when he visited the parish of Sts. Elizabeth and Zechariah.

“Our life is a path which we must follow to arrive at the encounter with Jesus. The most important thing that can happen to a person is to encounter Jesus, who loves us, who has saved us, who gave his life for us”, the Pope said, addressing the newly confirmed children. “We might wonder: but when will I meet Jesus? Only at the end? No! … All our lives are an encounter with Jesus, when we pray, when we go to Mass and when we do good works; when we visit the sick and when we help the poor; when we think of others, when we are not selfish, when we are kind … in these things we always find Jesus. And this is exactly what the path of life is: advancing towards Jesus”.

“Always remember: life is a path. A path to encounter Jesus. At the end, and always. A path where we do not encounter Jesus is not a Christian path”. “'But Father', you might ask me”, he continued, speaking off the cuff, “'You know that this path is a hard one for me, because I am a great sinner, I have committed many sins... How can I encounter Jesus?'. But you know that the people Jesus sought the most were the greatest sinners; and people reproached Him for this, and those who considered themselves righteous said that He could not be a true prophet – look at the company He keeps! He stayed with sinners. And He said, I have come for those who are in need of health, who need to be healed, and Jesus cured our sins. And on this path … we are all sinners – even when we make mistakes, Jesus comes to us and forgives us. And this forgiveness that we receive in Confession is an encounter with Jesus. We always encounter Jesus”.

“And we go through life like this, as the prophet said, towards the mountain, until the day in which the definitive encounter will take place. … This is Christian life: walking along, advancing united, as brothers, wishing good upon each other. … Be courageous, do not be afraid! Life is this path”, concluded the Holy Father, who, following Mass, spoke with several groups of faithful before returning to the Vatican shortly before 8 p.m.

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“This day has a special charm”, said the Pope. “It gives us a deep sense of history. We rediscover the beauty of taking the same path together: the Church, with her vocation and mission, and humanity as a whole, populations, civilisations, cultures, all walking along paths through time”.read more